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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 May 2007, 20:35 GMT 21:35 UK
No romance for lovesick albatross
Black-browed albatross
Black-browed albatrosses normally live in the Falkland Islands
A lovesick albatross has spent the last 40 years unsuccessfully looking for romance in Scotland, 8,000 miles away from his natural breeding grounds.

The lonely bird, dubbed Albert, is thought to have first arrived in Scotland after being blown off course in the South Atlantic in 1967.

For the past four decades he has been engaged in a futile attempt to woo gannets on several remote islands.

But experts said Albert had no prospect of finding a mate so far from home.

Albert was first seen by bird watchers flying over the Firth of Forth just days before Celtic won the European Cup in 1967. The giant bird was seen desperately trying to mate with two-foot high gannets.

His seven-foot wingspan later took him north to Shetland, where he continued searching in vain for a mate.

Female company

Albert, a black-browed albatross, has spent the last three years on Sula Sgeir, a tiny Atlantic rock between the Outer Hebrides and Shetland.

Experts said Albert faced the prospect of remaining a bachelor for his natural lifespan of 70 years as he had no chance of finding female company so far from his natural home in southern Argentina and the Falkland Islands.

Graeme Madge, of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, said: "The bird has never been spotted on different colonies at the same time therefore it is almost certainly the same one which has been seen over the last 40 years.

Sula Sgeir [Pic: Peter Strugnell]
Albert has spent the last three years on Sula Sgeir

"Although he has had no luck with love, the fact the bird has been flying around the northern hemisphere since the 1960s has probably kept him alive.

"Albert is at least 47 years old. The average Black-browed albatross lives for up to seventy years and he can well surpass that."

Although they are the most widespread and common albatross, the black-browed species is on the endangered list primarily due to fishing.

The birds follow fishing boats and get caught on hooks when trying to steal an easy meal.

The species generally breed around the Cape Horn area, on the southern tip of South America and the Falkland Islands.


SEE ALSO
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07 Nov 06 |  Science/Nature
Action plan for iconic seabirds
27 Sep 06 |  Science/Nature
Albatross numbers take steep dive
04 Jun 06 |  Science/Nature

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